There's no right or wrong in the way you approach art making. Your art practice can consist of as many elements or rituals as you wish and you should always choose whatever works for YOU.
Having said that, there's one habit that works for many experienced artists. There's this one thing thing that a lot of them dive into BEFORE they start creating art and it turns out to be extremely beneficial for their art practice.
So if you could try and implement it right at the beginning of your painting session, there's a big chance you will be in for a much more joyful and fruitful process. Want to find out? Read on!
Let's face it, not everyone can enjoy a vast art studio. Most of us make their art in a spare bedroom or maybe even on the kitchen table.
The space often feels cramped, because one thing I know for certain is that us, mixed-media people, we loooove supplies. So on one hand a small space with lots of supplies cramped in it and on the other hand our constant need of freeing some head space to allow our muse to flourish. So how to deal with this?
Jeanne Oliver, one of our Wanderlust 2022 Teachers and the owner of a successful art business says: "Being surrounded by all of my supplies is NOT freeing for me personally."
Sounds familiar? As much as we love having a large choice of supplies to create our art with, it can feel overwhelming and oppressive.
Wendy Solganik, another Wanderlust 2022 Teacher who built her large social media following (46.5k!) from a compact spare room in her house admits: "I work in a small bedroom in my home and while I'm fortunate to have that space to myself, I have totally run out of room. The mess is a constant problem because I am switching tasks multiple times per day".
So what do they do to keep their muse happy and not get discouraged by limited space or/and a big choice of supplies? How do they start their art practice?
I always start my art practice with tidying up! Cleaning is my signal that something new is about to happen. - says Wendy.
Alyssa Griese, a mixed-media artist who's signature style is full of layers and depth admits: "It feels like tidying up is the absolute last thing I want to do before starting my art practice, but it really helps me to clear my mind, and physically my space. "
And there's the extra bonus that happens when artists tidy up their creative spaces. "I find the process of tidying up my art space before I start creating more of a spark. I’ll often be putting back paints and tools or thumbing through ephemera and collage fodder and I find that by touching all of that stuff sparks my inspiration and gives me the motivation to get to work and make a mess again." - says Alyssa.
Waking your senses up by looking at and touching your favourite supplies can be a signal for your inner artist to wake up and get ready for inspiration. You'll get to feel which pencils, paints or brushes make your creativity spark and if you choose to gather only limited supplies, it can help you reduce the amount of choices that you have to make during the process of creating art. Jeanne Oliver says that editing her supplies keeps her energy on the next mark and allows her to not be overwhelmed by supply choices.
Julie Valentine, the incredibly prolific mixed-media artist from California gives some extra tips on how to cope with a small space and a noisy environment:
"I always start my art practice by organizing and clearing my creative space. I work and create in the same space, so I like to clear work papers away and put down a big clean sheet of white paper to begin my practice. I like to clear my space in silence. If the house is particularly noisy, I pop in ear plugs which allows me to focus on what I'm doing and listen to the sound of my breath. This part of my process, is where I connect to my creative expression.
My next step is to go through my art supply drawers. I open and close almost all of my art supply drawers that hold paints, inks, mark making tools, pens and stamps. It's like shopping at home and I love re-discovering items I've purchased over the years. I collect all the supplies that make me happy in a basket, and place them on my desk for easy access. Lately I have been grabbing one full drawer of supples and challenging myself to use as many supplies in the drawer as possible."
So how about doing these three simple steps the next time you're ready to do some art?
Have a quick tidy up of your workspace. Even if it seems pretty clean, see what else could be put away to create more space. TIP: Don't get sucked into a big clean up, don't let it distract you from art making.
Have a slow, mindful browse through your supplies. Spend a moment enjoying them. Maybe sorting them by colour or a pretty arrangement on your table?
Choose supplies that feel good today and create a small art kit for this painting session. Put everything else away as much as you can to reduce the distractions. You can always reach out for extra supplies, but start with just a small kit.
Artist featured in this post are Jeanne Oliver, Julie Valentine, Alyssa Griese and Wendy Solganik. They are four of 28 Teachers of Wanderlust 2022 - year long course in mixed-media art journaling. Wanderlust is avaialble to join until the end of December 2021. Right now at a promotion al price of $125 USD (reg. price $175 USD).